In India, depression is not an easy topic to talk about. By and large, the idea of depression makes people so uncomfortable, they either ignore it, try to brush it away, or worse, pretend that it’s “just a phase” that will pass on its own. However, many times those responses to depression are triggered because people simply don’t understand it. Or they don’t recognize the signs of depression. One of the most important facts of depression thatmust clearly be understood is that it is a disease that can affect people of all ages and genders and from all walks of life.
But what is it, exactly? If it’s a mental disease, does depression come with a few signs that can be recognised? Can depression be treated or cured? The answers to these questions begin with understanding what exactly depression is. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is an illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.
Additionally, peoplewith depression can also have these symptoms:
● Getting too little or too much sleep ● Reduced levels of concentration ● Drastic changes in appetite; usually, a loss of appetite ● Very low self-esteem and low feelings or worthlessness
In its most extreme form, depression can even lead its victims to self-harm and suicide. Earlier this year in February, The Mint reported that over five crore people in India suffer from depression. If that number isn’t scary enough, here’s another one - India leads the world in suicide rates. Believe us when we say depression is a serious problem and a condition that needs proper treatment. And most importantly, depression needs help from the right expert.
Our message is, “Let’s talk about depression.” Let’s make it easy for ourselves and for our loved ones to accept that they have depression. And let’s support them in their journey to understand their illness better so theycan get theright treatment.
Three Easy Ways to Break Away from the Stigma of Depression
1. Reach out to people you trust. Because of our lifelong conditioning and the way we tip-toe around it, depression can be really difficult to talk about. “I remember, once, when I told my grandmother I was feeling depressed, she just yelled at me and told me to get over it” recalls Niti Shah. “After that, I never brought it up with her or anyone else ever again.” Niti is not alone in her experience which highlights an important issue. We do need to pay attention to people when they talk about feeling depressed. But we also need to reach out to people we trust, if we’re feeling depressed. They may not know how to help you or respond to you like a professional, but ask for their time and ask them to listen without opinion or judgment. Don’t feel like you have to deal with your depression on your own.
2. Make time for doing things you’ve always loved doing. One of the clearest indicators of depression is that people stop doing things they love or are passionate about. If you haven’t felt like spending time with things or people you love for more than two weeks, you should now reconnect with at least one activity close to your heart. Go out for a long walk with a friend (exercise is one of the best antidotes!), watch a movie, listen to some upbeat and lighthearted music, or reminisce about happy times. The idea is to do at least one thing that distracts you or helps you dust off the mental cobwebs so you can remember your happy self.
3. Consider seeking help from a professional. The stigma around depression makes it really difficult for people to get help from a mental health professional. “You know how it is when people talk about going to see a therapist”, says Nina Kamath. “We all grew up hearing that if you’ve got to see a therapist, then you’re abnormal or crazy. It was the same for me. I didn’t want to feel like I was crazy or couldn’t handle my problems.”
Nina makes an important point as well. A person suffering from depression isn’t crazy or abnormal and their depression does not mean they have a weak mind or character. “It took me a long time to accept that asking for help didn’t mean I was weak”, Nina told us. If you or even your loved ones are suffering with some or any of the symptoms of depression, consider seeking help from a professional. Depression can be treated and the right cure can prevent long-term damage.
The author is associated with the Suasth One Step Clinic